Auguste Rodin’s artwork is known for its emphasis on simple human moments and expressions. This can be seen in his sculpture, The Burghers of Calais, which was created with the help of many sketches and studies, including several nude studies of his models. One such model was Jean d’Aire, whose full-body nude study is owned by Davidson College after being gifted by the Pepper family.
Rodin used these nude studies to understand the body movements and expressions of his models better. In Jean d’Aire’s case, Rodin created multiple studies before finalizing his sculpture for The Burghers of Calais. One study showed him partially covered in a toga with a noose around his neck, now found in the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City.
While many artists at that time used classical myth as inspiration for their artwork, Rodin instead focused on representing simple human dignity. This is evident in his figures within The Burghers of Calais; while they tell a specific narrative about surrendering oneself to an invading force during wartime, they also embody universal themes such as pain and sacrifice.
In conclusion, Auguste Rodin’s study of Jean d’Aire’s nude body helped him create one of the figures within The Burghers of Calais while also allowing him to capture raw emotions and movements authentically. Through this process and focus on human dignity over classical myth narratives, he solidified himself as not only a skilled sculptor but also a groundbreaking artist who challenged norms within art at that time.